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The Forest Scout

The Student News Site of Lake Forest High School

The Forest Scout

The Student News Site of Lake Forest High School

The Forest Scout

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The New SAT: Is It Fair?

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Image from Rawpixel

For juniors, the SAT season is in full swing. However, unlike past years, the test is now completely digital – a big change for students who have been preparing by taking the paper PSAT for years. The main differences regarding the new SAT format are:

  • Test is shorter in length
  • English and writing sections are condensed
  • Calculators are allowed on the entirety of the math section
  • Increased or decreased question difficulty within sections
  • Results are received faster

The sections themselves appear like this:

  • Reading and Writing Section 1, 27 questions in 34 minutes
  • Reading and Writing Section 2, 27 questions in 34 minutes
  • Math Section 1, 22 questions in 35 minutes
  • Math Section 2, 22 questions in 35 minutes

Many students have expressed a liking for the updated version of the test.

“Taking the SAT on my computer gave me an organized view of my progress and time. I don’t like scantrons, so the paper SAT always worried me that I was filling out the Scranton wrong,” junior Annie Gibbons said.

Junior Megan Gapinski says that the updated structure of the test was less stressful. 

“It was shorter than the paper test, so it was less draining. The passages were also easier to read because they weren’t as long as the paper ones; overall, the digital test was easier to navigate because it had tools, like highlighters and the ability to flag questions, that you could use.”

On the other hand, several students have shared an opposition to the new structure. Your performance on the first section for both English and Math dictates whether the next section increases or decreases in difficulty. The main concern students are considering is that this new approach to the SAT may have an unfair scoring system. To illustrate this, a student may perform well on the first half of their English section and is awarded with more challenging questions in the second half. Yet, they may perform poorly on the next set of questions due to their difficulty, emerging with a similar score as someone who had easier questions in the second half. 

“I’d rather be receiving the same questions as everyone else rather than doing well at first and then getting super challenging questions that I’ll get wrong,” junior Finley Karr said.

Junior Tito Ford says that he’s afraid his score might be hurt because of more challenging questions, especially if he doesn’t do well on them. “I think it poses an unfair balance because not everyone is given identical questions,” Ford said.

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However, according to Ivy Scholars, the questions on the second half of each section have a different weight depending on difficulty. They say that “because students are not all given the same questions, scoring can no longer be done simply with the ratio of correct to wrong answers. Instead, an algorithm assigns different weights to different questions, so getting a harder question right is worth proportionally more than getting an easy question correct.”

What this means is the only way to get a perfect score is to perform well on the first portion of each section. To many people, the pressure to accomplish this may be daunting; however, it doesn’t have to be. Using test-taking strategies and remaining calm throughout the test can quell your nerves. Some things to try are:

  • Staying engaged and aware
  • Pacing yourself and managing your time well
  • Flagging any questions you’re unsure about and coming back to them
  • Using the tools provided, such as highlighters and graphing calculators
  • Having a positive attitude and a focused mind when tackling each question

Following these techniques will help you achieve the best possible score; remember, there’s always the opportunity to retake the test.

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About the Contributor
Stella Henretta, Staff Writer
 During the fall, junior Stella Henretta's committed to Varsity tennis, but switches gears to lacrosse during the spring. On weekends, Stella works as a coach at GLASA to help disabled athletes play tennis. She’s also a cashier at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s cafe, where she loves to take walks among the flowers after her shift. This school year, she hopes that through her cumulative experiences and knowledge, she will be successful in providing her readers with information about events happening both in and out of LFHS!
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